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Title: An analysis of community-led superfast broadband initiatives in the UK and the potential for resilience
Author: Ashmore, Fiona Helena
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 5395
Awarding Body: University of Aberdeen
Current Institution: University of Aberdeen
Date of Award: 2015
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Despite interest from policymakers and the telecommunications sector to deliver superfast broadband to the whole of the UK, rural areas remain underserved, decreasing their ability to benefit from broadband-enabled services. Public intervention, primarily structured as national subsidies, is active across the UK to respond to this rural market failure. Complementing such practices are local-level strategies framed as community-led broadband initiatives. Their inclusion within wider superfast broadband installation strategies has not yet been examined. This doctoral research examines two of these initiatives, their structure and impact on the community to develop an understanding of their potential as replicable rural broadband delivery mechanisms. I analyse both the process of installing superfast broadband technology from community-led perspective and the subsequent engagement with superfast broadband through a qualitative longitudinal approach. A conceptual framework of 'social resilience' is developed as a contemporary analytical tool for examining these individual and community processes. The findings reveal an inherent complexity to rural community-led broadband provision. Community-led broadband reflects a 'localism' development approach, and this process has strengthened local rural identity. Following the adoption of superfast broadband, rural users experienced a growth in digital knowledge and individual resilience. However, the initiatives themselves are often discussed as 'separate from', or incompatible with, the telecommunications industry, as well as sitting outside the scope of current government interventions. In doing so, barriers to external networking and extra-local partnerships are built, limiting the opportunities for community-led broadband networks to become a substantive part of rural broadband delivery across the UK. Throughout the thesis, an understanding of these various tensions, impacting the success, use and replicability of rural community-led broadband, is developed and community-led broadband is shown to be another example of uneven rural development. I conclude by making recommendations for future digital policy interventions in the UK.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: RCUK Digital Economy Programme ; dot.rural Digital Economy Hub
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Broadband communication systems ; Community power